Switzerland seeks UNESCO status for Alpine pasture season

Switzerland seeks UNESCO status for Alpine pasture season

Switzerland has submitted a request to include the “alpine pasture season” in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The government argues that the tradition is emblematic of the Swiss mountains and people, and has been a common practice since the Middle Ages.

Alpine pasturing is the source of most Swiss culture

In a statement, the Federal Office of Culture said that the tradition of alpine pasturing - where farmers move livestock up and down mountain valleys dependent on the season to get the best feed - is a constantly evolving Swiss tradition that has been the backbone of many facets of Swiss culture, from cheese to milk to alpine hiking. 

Unfortunately, the future of this tradition is under threat, with 20 minuten reporting that climate change and a declining farming population have forced the government to intervene to try and save the practice. The application to UNESCO was submitted by a collection of cantons, alpine communities, museums and historical sites that want to see the practice given international protection.

Farming traditions to be preserved across Europe

It comes alongside a similar application submitted with Austria and seven other nations, that calls for “traditional irrigation in Europe: knowledge, technique and organisation,” to become a protected practice. Already, areas of Valais, Aargau, and Bern are under greater protection from authorities to preserve the farming traditions of each region.

Supporters argue that the practice of taking cattle up and down mountain valleys is the source of a large part of the Swiss identity and should be recognised as such. If the application is approved, it will make the preservation of the practice a global effort.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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